Piassek’s Plays: Betting on Speed, Versatility at Fair Grounds

In his regular gambling blog, John Piassek presents his top picks for the upcoming weekend in horse racing, offering betting options at different budget levels. Piassek’s Plays is brought to you by Horseplayers.com, the official online qualifying site of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) and National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). Horseplayers.com offers low-cost feeders every day and BCBC and NHC qualifiers every weekend, and it’s the only site where you can qualify for the $1 million BCBC. It’s free to sign up – click here to get information about registering and how to enter contests.

Piassek has contributed to the horse racing sites The Racing Biz and Danonymous Racing and worked at Tioga Downs, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga Race Course. He joined America’s Best Racing in January 2021.

Saturday, Dec. 11

Fair Grounds, Race 10, Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, post time 5:23 p.m. ET

#4 Sir Wellington: The Saturday card at Fair Grounds features a plethora of Louisiana-bred stakes races. This race features 10 of the best Louisiana-bred sprinters going six furlongs. Not surprisingly for a sprint stakes, there’s lots of horses in this race with early speed. In a race like this, I prefer a horse who can rate just off the lead and take advantage if the early leaders burn each other out. 

Sir Wellington made his first start off a long break last time out. His appearance in a second-level allowance-optional claiming race on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs was his first start in more than six months. Despite that break, he battled well on the lead and held on to finish fourth. It’s unusual for him to be on the lead. In most cases, he rates off the leaders and makes his move on the turn. That’s what happened in the Gazebo Stakes, which he won at Oaklawn Park in March after closing into a very fast pace. He’s making his second start off the layoff here, and should improve with a race under his belt. If Marcelino Pedroza can rate him in fourth or fifth early, he’ll be in a great striking spot turning for home.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$4 to win on 4

$2 exacta: 4 with 2,5,9 ($6 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$7 to win on 4

$3 exacta: 4 with 2,5,9 ($9 total)

$1 trifecta: 4 with 2,5,9 with 2,5,7,9 ($9 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$14 to win on 4

$6 exacta: 4 with 2,5,9 ($18 total)

$2 trifecta: 4 with 2,5,9 with 2,5,7,9 ($18 total)

 Fair Grounds, Race 12, Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes, post time 6:21 p.m. ET

#6 Medley: This Steve Asmussen-trained filly broke her maiden in her fourth career start at Churchill last out, in what was far and away her career-best performance. She got in a speed duel on the rail but shook off her dueling partner and pulled clear in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths. She earned an Equibase Speed Figure of 80 in that spot, a lifetime-top mark by 13 points. She’s not a need-the-lead type, so she has the option to go after the leaders or rate off them. If she gets the right trip and improves off her maiden win, she’ll take charge in the stretch and draw off to another impressive victory.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$5 to win on 6

$5 exacta: 6 with 8

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$9 to win on 6

$8 exacta: 6 with 8,9 ($16 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$20 to win on 6

$10 exacta: 6 with 5,8,9 ($30 total)